“We are in this situation because for more than a year Nikol Pashinian has been repeating on all official platforms Azerbaijani claims about why Artsakh cannot be independent and accusing former [Armenian] authorities of mishandling negotiations and recognizing Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan,” Gegham Manukian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “By repeating these notions, he has given Azerbaijan enormous political tools to silence the Artsakh issue in international bodies.”
Pashinian has signaled in recent weeks plans to sign a peace treaty that will commit Armenia and Azerbaijan to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity. The two countries inched closer to such a deal during his talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held in Prague last week.
The Armenian government said earlier this year that the treaty should also address the “rights and security” of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population, a demand rejected by Azerbaijan. Pashinian now says that it must make no reference to Karabakh. He says that it will be up to Baku and the Karabakh Armenians to negotiate on the territory’s status.
Hayastan and other major opposition groups have condemned this stance, saying that Pashinian is helping Baku restore full control over Karabakh.
Peace plans jointly drafted by the United States, Russia and France prior to the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war upheld the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination, which would be exercised through a referendum. The three world powers stopped working together in the OSCE Minsk Group format following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Pashinian has denounced those plans repeatedly modified by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the Minsk Group from 2007-2018. Speaking in the Armenian parliament on October 5, he alleged that they called for Armenia’s “capitulation” to Azerbaijan. Opposition leaders laughed off his claims.
Pashinian sparked weeks of antigovernment protests in Yerevan in May after declaring that the international community is pressing Armenia to “lower the bar” on Karabakh’s future status and signaling readiness to do that. Opposition forces have yet to say whether they will stage more such protests if he presses ahead with the peace accord with Azerbaijan.